The First Lady and the American parent : a rhetorical examination of Michelle Obama's use of metaphor to combat childhood obesity Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/w95054584

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  • First Ladies have performed a variety of public and private roles, from presidential escort, hostess, and social advocate to policy maker and presidential advisor. The nature of the position has always been both traditional and gendered, greatly influencing each First Lady's performance. Due to the changing role of women in society, the notion of the First Lady being involved in public policy is a phenomenon isolated to the latter part of the twentieth century. Today the First Lady is expected to serve as a visible advocate for a wide range of social causes. Michelle Obama has championed the Let's Move! campaign, which strives to end childhood obesity in America within the next generation. On February 28th, 2013, Obama spoke to a group of parents, volunteers, teachers and community members about the state of childhood obesity in America and what the Let's Move! campaign is doing to change the lives of the next generation. This study aims to find out how Michelle Obama uses metaphor to build a relationship and connect with the audience in order to communicate and promote the importance of the Let's Move! campaign. This thesis analyzes the rhetorical strategies used by Obama to alter perceptions of the federal government utilizing the gendered power of the First Lady's Office. Employing an interdisciplinary approach that concerns rhetorical strategies in political discourse, this thesis utilizes George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's concept of metaphor in conjunction with Kenneth Burke's theory of substance. The analysis shows that Obama's use of metaphor helps her to identify with audience members and redefine what it means to be an American parent. The findings of this study suggest that the use of metaphor have powerful implications for affecting society's beliefs about the role of the federal government.
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